This week there was a sort of back-and-forth starting with Brian Proffitt in one blog item about Richard Stallman’s somewhat verbose Guardian article and a response by Bruce Byfield in a blog item about how he notices that lately people are picking on the Free Software Foundation. This kind of tete-a-tete is normally custom made for my participation, and last night I had thought about jumping in with both feet and an arm.
But you know what? Never mind. Just never mind. I had a whole blog item written last night. I went to bed. I woke up this morning and read my item. Then I deleted it. It’s just another “fuel, meet fire” situation that, despite my standard-issue remarkable and compelling prose (ahem), would have just removed focus from more important issues and would have created ill feelings.
So I’m just going to shrug, say “Ho-kay,” and write about something else.
Before I do, however, I will say that I do think Brian is right when he says that the Guardian article is another FSF broadside against open source, and that I don’t agree with Bruce’s arguments that the FSF is being picked on. Let’s look more importantly at the latter: The FSF does a lot of great things on behalf of software freedom, and does so with remarkably few resources. For this we are truly thankful. On the other hand, the FSF tragically has made an exact science of cultivating a “my way or highway” attitude (bring up dissenting viewpoints, as I have, and see how far you go), which makes its prevalent dogmatic stance a formula for organizational rigor mortis. For this reason alone (though there are others I won’t go into here), the FSF hand-delivers invitations for criticism — some of it deserved, some not — rather than than being victims of attacks for whatever reason externally. For all the great things he has done, Richard Stallman is largely responsible for this culture of dogma and rigidity, and when some — not me, but others — equate the FSF to being the FOSS equivalent of the Taliban, I’d like to argue against that comparison but, honestly, I really can’t.
But never mind.
Let’s go from one train wreck to another, shall we?
One of the items that is high on the tech radar today is the fact that Hewlett-Packard is about to push Leo Apotheker off the top of the building (the sentiments of some board members, it’s safe to say) and replace him with — I kid you not — Meg Whitman.
Meg Whitman. I would have prefered Slim Whitman — link to Wikipedia provided so the kids here don’t have to Google him. So while you read who he is, get off of my lawn.
This Whitman-for-Apotheker swap has been described as a “hangover solution” in one ZDNet blog item, a sort of “hair of the dog” after an all-night bender where the first question is, “I did . . . WHAT?!” And the best decisions are usually not made when you’re hung over. Hence we have Meg Whitman waiting in the wings when, according to people at HP, they have a very capable CEO choice in house with Ann Livermore.
While it would probably be best for HP to keep someone in house at the helm — that’s one vote for you, Ann, over Meg — whomever takes over hopefully will say, with one of their first utterances in charge, “Remember what we said about dumping our hardware and WebOS? We take that back.”
That would be nice, but on the whole that, too, probably deserves another shrug.
Now that LinuxCon North America is over, and it was quite a show, I think they’ve got the publicity thing covered, especially with the gangster-themed gala and all the great presentations that were given at the event. But if you’re going to the next show, make it the Ohio LinuxFest in September. Bradley Kuhn and Cathy Malmrose are keynoting, so you’ll not want to miss that (especially Cathy — Go ZaReason!)
Larry the Free Software Guy — there he goes again with the third-person reference (sorry, but I have a strict rule about starting off a blog with “I”) — is grateful that there are folks out there that can articulate what he’s thinking far, far better than he could. Frankly, I’m at peace with that because, for starters, it means that I can just put a link here and say, “Yeah, what $NAME said.”
So it’s with great thanks offered to all the dieties one can come up with that there are folks like Bruce Byfield and Carla Schroder around to write such great stuff that allows me the laziness of pointing a finger to it and saying, “See? I agree. I wish I had written that.”
Bruce Byfield wrote an article last week, “The GNOME 3 Meltdown” was the over-the-top (literally and figuratively) headline, about how Linus Torvalds’ opinion of GNOME 3 may have set off an avalance of GNOME 3 criticism, and the article goes into detail about how we arrived there and what may follow. It’s pure Bruce — an essay which goes beyond the mere provoking of thought and should cause wide discussion.
As usual, Bruce nailed it.
This article was followed by another by Bruce after receiving an e-mail from Aaron Seigo of KDE, where Aaron points out to Bruce that the FOSS press could stand to be a little more positive, or lacking that, offer solutions (or ways to for others to find solutions). Under the headline “I’ve Got Some Good News and Some Bad News,” Bruce points out the start of there discussion — a discussion that has yet to have an ending.
Along the same lines on this particular topic, Carla Schroder writes an outstanding piece entitled, “Linux Desktop Flamewars: Is The News Media Too Negative?” Carla — author and editor par excellence — aptly points out that the problem isn’t with the media coverage. It’s not the FOSS media’s job to be advocates or cheerleaders, which is true — its job is to present the truth, beautiful or blemished as it might be.
Grab some coffee or other beverage, set aside some time and read these well-written pieces, if you haven’t already. It’s well worth the time.
This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the current version of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.
Originally, I was going to write about something else — Microsoft’s “love” of open source, where invariably Mr. Godwin’s theorem would have definitely come into play, and probably very early on — but I decided to shelve that blog post in favor of this one.
Yesterday, Bruce Byfield’s essay — er, blog — is entitled “Ubuntu 10.10 Alpha: Slouching Toward Ubuntu GNOME.” During the course of a pretty good look at the upcoming Maverick Meerkat, Bruce points out that the desktop is beginning to stray further from the original GNOME to something that Ubuntu is developing on its own. Which is fine, and kudos for the efforts, even though (in my opinion) it would be better if they went upstream in GNOME with whatever they produce, which doesn’t seem to be happening.
So, stop me if you’ve heard this before. Bruce writes:
“These changes in Ubuntu GNOME inspire mixed feelings in many. Some think that Ubuntu should be praised for making innovations in the desktop, and probably some, such as Multitouch, will eventually find their way into mainstream GNOME and other desktops.
“Still others note that Ubuntu is introducing these changes unilaterally, rather through the GNOME project, and — even though the changes are available under free licenses – the company is not being a good community citizen by acting in this way.”
So while firmly in the camp of “still others,” I’ll just wait patiently while the Ubunteros from the top down line up to either a.) make valid arguments against what Bruce wrote, or b.) start in on ad hominem attacks that have little, or anything, to do with the issue at hand. Or weigh in with something in between.
Also, I should start cleaning up the office for an upcoming visit by the celebrated Colonel Panik, who will be gracing Northern California in an upcoming trip in the near future.
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.